DOJ sues Texas over redistricting plan

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday sued Texas over the state’s new redistricting plan, alleging its map illegally undermines minority groups’ right to vote.

DOJ officials said that while the number of Latino and Black voters in Texas grew significantly over the last decade, the state’s new map dilutes minority voting strength in violation of federal law.

“The department’s career voting law experts have assessed Texas's new redistricting plans and determined that they include districts that violate the Voting Rights Act,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a press conference announcing the lawsuit.

The legal challenge comes after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in October signed into law a new congressional map that independent analysts say gives Republicans an unfair partisan advantage.

The Supreme Court has previously held that the practice of drawing manipulated congressional and legislative district maps for political advantage is not reviewable by federal courts. But redistricting plans that disproportionately harm minority groups remain illegal under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The new DOJ lawsuit, filed in federal court in El Paso, goes even further: It alleges that several districts contained in Texas’s new map were drawn with the specific intent of discriminating against minority voters.

“Our complaint today alleges that the redistricting plans approved by the Texas state legislature and signed into law by the governor will deny black and Latino voters an equal opportunity to participate in the voting process and to elect representatives of their choice in violation of the Voting Rights Act,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “Our complaint also alleges that several of those districts were drawn with discriminatory intent.”

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